The Mahabharata

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Offline nusrat-diu

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2011, 03:15:52 PM »
8. Vidura

THE sage Mandavya who had acquired strength of mind and knowledge of the scriptures, spent his days in penance and the practice of truth.

He lived in a hermitage in the forests on the outskirts of the city. One day while he was immersed in silent contemplation under the shade of a tree outside his hut of leaves, a band of robbers fled through the woods with officers of the king in hot pursuit.

The fugitives entered the ashrama thinking that it would be a convenient place to hide themselves in. They placed their booty in a corner and hid themselves. The soldiers of the king came to the ashrama tracking their footsteps.

The commander of the soldiers asked Mandavya, who was rapt in deep meditation in a tone of peremptory command: "Did you see the robbers pass by? Where did they go? Reply at once so that we may give chase and capture them."

The sage, who was absorbed in yoga, remained silent. The commander repeated the question insolently.  But the sage did not hear anything. In the meantime some of the attendants entered the ashrama and discovered the stolen goods lying there.

They reported this to their commander. All of them went in and found the stolen goods and the robbers who were in hiding.

The commander thought: "Now I know the reason why the brahmana pretended to be a silent sage. He is indeed the chief of these robbers. He has inspired this robbery." Then he ordered his soldiers to guard the place, went to the king and told him that the sage Mandavya had been caught with the stolen goods.

The king was very angry at the audacity of the chief of the robbers who had put on the garb of a brahmana sage, the better to deceive the world. Without pausing to verify the facts, he ordered the wicked criminal, as he thought him, to be impaled.

The commander returned to the hermitage, impaled Mandavya on a spear and handed over the stolen things to the king.

The virtuous sage, though impaled on the spear, did not die. Since he was in yoga when he was impaled he remained alive by the power of yoga. Sages who lived in other parts of the forest came to his hermitage and asked Mandavya how he came to be in that terrible pass.

Mandavya replied: "Whom shall I blame? The servants of the king, who protect the world, have inflicted this punishment."

The king was surprised and frightened when he heard that the impaled sage was still alive and that he was surrounded by the other sages of the forest. He hastened to the forest with his attendants and at once ordered the sage to be taken down from the spear. Then he prostrated at his feet and prayed humbly to be forgiven for the offence unwittingly committed.

Mandavya was not angry with the king. He went straight to Dharma, the divine dispenser of justice, who was seated on his throne, and asked him: "What crime have I committed to deserve this torture?"

Lord Dharma, who knew the great power of the sage, replied in all humility: "O sage, you have tortured birds and bees. Are you not aware that all deeds, good or bad, however small, inevitably produce their results, good or evil?"

Mandavya was surprised at this reply of Lord Dharma and asked: "When did I commit this offence?"

Lord Dharma replied: "When you were a child."

Mandavya then pronounced a curse on Dharma: "This punishment you have decreed is far in excess of the deserts of a mistake committed by a child in ignorance. Be born, therefore, as a mortal in the world."

Lord Dharma who was thus cursed by the sage Mandavya incarnated as Vidura and was born of the servant-maid of Ambalika, the wife of Vichitravirya.

This story is intended to show that Vidura was the incarnation of Dharma. The great men of the world regarded Vidura as a mahatma who was unparalleled in his knowledge of dharma, sastras and statesmanship and was totally devoid of attachment and anger. Bhishma appointed him, while he was still in his teens, as the chief counsellor of king Dhritarashtra.

Vyasa has it that no one in the three worlds could equal Vidura in virtue and knowledge. When Dhritarashtra gave his, permission for the game of dice, Vidura fell at his feet and protested solemnly: "O king and lord, I cannot approve of this action. Strife will set in among your sons as a result. Pray, do not allow this."

Dhritarashtra also tried in manly ways to dissuade his wicked son. He said to him: "Do not proceed with this game. Vidura does not approve of it, the wise Vidura of lofty intellect who is ever intent on our welfare. He says the game is bound to result in a fierceness of hate which will consume us and our kingdom."

But Duryodhana did not heed this advice. Carried away by his doting fondness for his son, Dhritarashtra surrendered his better judgment and sent to Yudhishthira the fateful invitation to the game.
Nusrat Jahan
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2011, 03:20:15 PM »
9. Kunti Devi

SURA, the grandfather of Sri Krishna, was a worthy scion of the Yadava race. His daughter Pritha was noted for her beauty and virtues. Since his cousin Kuntibhoja was childless, Sura gave his daughter Pritha in adoption to him. From that time she was known by the name of Kunti after her adoptive father.

When Kunti was a little girl, the sage Durvasa stayed for a time as a guest in her father's house and she served the sage for a year with all care, patience and devotion. He was so pleased with her that he gave her a divine mantra. He said:

"If you call upon any god repeating this mantra, he will manifest himself to you and bless you with a son equal to him in glory." He granted her this boon because he foresaw by his yogic power the misfortune that was in store for her future husband.

The impatient curiosity of youth made Kunti test then and there the efficacy of the mantra by repeating it and invoking the Sun whom she saw shining in the heavens. At once the sky grew dark with clouds, and under cover of them the Sun god approached the beautiful princess Kunti and stood gazing at her with ardent soul scorching admiration. Kunti, overpowered by the glorious vision of her divine visitor, asked: "O god, who art thou?"

The Sun replied: "Dear maiden, I am the Sun. I have been drawn to you by the spell of the son-giving mantra that you have uttered."

Kunti was aghast and said: "I am an unwedded girl dependent on my father. I am not fit for motherhood and do not desire it. I merely wished to test the power of the boon granted by the sage Durvasa. Go back and forgive this childish folly of mine." But the Sun god could not thus return because the power of the mantra held him. She for her part was mortally afraid of being blamed by the world. The Sun god however reassured her:

"No blame shall attach to you. After bearing my son, you will regain virginity.''

Kunti conceived by the grace of the Sun, the giver of light and life to all the world. Divine births take place immediately without the nine months weary course of mortal gestation.

She gave birth to Karna who was born with divine armor and earrings and was bright and beautiful like the Sun. In time, he became one of the world's greatest heroes. After the birth of the child, Kunti once again became a virgin as a result of the boon granted by the Sun.

She wondered what she should do with the child. To hide her fault she placed the child in a sealed box and set it afloat in a river. A childless charioteer happened to see the floating case, and taking it, was surprised and delighted to see within it a gorgeously beautiful child.

He handed it over to his wife who lavished a mother's love on it. Thus Karna, the son of the Sun god, came to be brought up as a charioteer's child. When the time came for giving Kunti in marriage, Kuntibhoja invited all the neighboring princes and held a swayamvara for her to choose her husband.

Many eager suitors flocked to the swayamvara as the princess was widely famed for her great beauty and virtue. Kunti placed the garland on the neck of King Pandu, the bright representative of the Bharata race, whose personality eclipsed the lustre of all the other princes assembled there. The marriage was duly solemnised and she accompanied her husband to his capital Hastinapur.

On the advice of Bhishma and in accordance with the prevailing custom, Pandu took a second wife Madri, the sister of the king of Madra. In the old days the kings took two or three wives for making sure of progeny and not for mere sensual desire.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #17 on: June 25, 2011, 03:21:31 PM »
10. Death Of Pandu

ONE day King Pandu was out hunting. A sage and his wife were also sporting in the forest in the guise of deer. Pandu shot the male with an arrow, in ignorance of the fact that it was a sage in disguise. Stricken to death the rishi thus cursed Pandu: "Sinner, you will meet with death the moment you taste the pleasures of the bed."

Pandu was heartbroken at this curse and retreated to the forest with his wives after entrusting his kingdom to Bhishma and Vidura and lived there a life of perfect abstinence.

Seeing that Pandu was desirous of offspring, which the rishi’s curse had denied him, Kunti confided to him the story of the mantra she had received from Durvasa. He urged Kunti and Madri to use the mantra and thus it was that the five Pandavas were born of the gods to Kunti and Madri.

They were born and brought up in the forest among ascetics. King Pandu lived for many years in the forest with his wives and children. It was springtime. And one day Pandu and Madri forgot their sorrows in the rapture of sympathy with the throbbing life around them, the happy flowers, creepers, birds and other creatures of the forest.

In spite of Madri’s earnest and repeated protests Pandu’s resolution broke down under the exhilarating influence of the season, and at once the curse of the sage took effect and Pandu fell, dead.

Madri could not contain her sorrow. Since she felt that she was responsible for the death of the king. She burnt herself on the pyre of her husband entreating Kunti to remain and be a mother to her doubly orphaned children.

The sages of the forest took the bereaved and grief-stricken Kunti and the Pandavas to Hastinapura and entrusted them to Bhishma.

Yudhishthira was but sixteen years old at that time. When the sages came to Hastinapura and reported the death of Pandu in the forest, the whole kingdom was plunged in sorrow. Vidura, Bhishma, Vyasa, Dhritarashtra and others performed the funeral rites.

All the people in the kingdom lamented as at a personal loss. Vyasa said to Satyavati, the grandmother: "The past has gone by pleasantly, but the future has many sorrows in store. The world has passed its youth like a happy dream and it is now entering on disillusionment, sin, sorrow and suffering. Time is inexorable. You need not wait to see the miseries and misfortunes that will befall this race. It will be good for you to leave the city and spend the rest of your days in a hermitage in the forest." Satyavati agreed and went to the forest with Ambika and Ambalika. These three aged queens passed through holy asceticism to the higher regions of bliss and spared themselves the sorrows of their children.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #18 on: June 25, 2011, 03:22:27 PM »
11. Bhima
THE five sons of Pandu and the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra grew up in mirth and merriment at Hastinapura. Bhima excelled them all in physical prowess. He used to bully Duryodhana and the other Kauravas by dragging them by the hair and beating them.

A great swimmer, he would dive, into pools, with one or more of them clasped helpless in his arms, and remain under water till they were almost drowned. Whenever they climbed up on a tree he would stand on the ground and kick at the tree and shake them down like ripe fruits.

The bodies of the sons of Dhritarashtra would be ever sore with bruises as a result of Bhima's practical jokes. Small wonder that the sons of Dhritarashtra nursed a deep hatred for Bhima from their very infancy.

As the princes grew up. Kripacharya taught them archery and the practice of arms and other things that princes should learn. Duryodhana's jealousy towards Bhima warped his mind and made him commit many improper acts.

Duryodhana was very much worried. His father being blind, the kingdom was ruled by Pandu. After his death Yudhishthira, the heir-apparent, would in course of time become king. Duryodhana thought that as his blind father was quite helpless he must, to prevent Yudhishthira's accession to the throne, contrive a way of killing Bhima.

He made arrangements to carry out his resolve since he thought that the powers of the Pandavas would decline with the death of Bhima.

Duryodhana and his brothers planned to throw Bhima into the Ganges, imprison Arjuna and Yudhishthira, and then seize the kingdom and rule it. So Duryodhana went with his brothers and the Pandavas for a swim in the Ganges.

After the sports they slept in their tents being exhausted. Bhima had exerted himself more than the others and as his food had been poisoned, he felt drowsy and lay down on the bank of the river. Duryodhana bound him with wild creepers and threw him into the river.

The evil Duryodhana had already caused sharp spikes to be planted on the spot. This was done purposely so that Bhima might in falling be impaled on the spikes, and lose his life. Fortunately there was no spike in the place where Bhima fell. Poisonous water-snakes bit his body.

The poisonous food he had taken was counteracted by the snake poison and Bhima came to no harm, and presently, the river washed him to a bank.

Duryodhana thought that Bhima must have died as he had been thrown in the river infested with poisonous snakes and planted with spikes. So he returned to the city with the rest of the party in great joy.

When Yudhishthira inquired about the whereabouts of Bhima, Duryodhana informed him that he had preceded them to the city.

Yudhishthira believed Duryodhana and as soon as he returned home, asked his mother whether Bhima had returned home.

His anxious question brought forth the reply that Bhima had not yet returned, which made Yudhishthira suspect some foul play against his brother. And he went again with his brothers to the forest and searched everywhere. But Bhima could not be found. They went back in great sorrow.

Sometime later Bhima awoke and trudged wearily back home. Kunti and Yudhishthira welcomed him and embraced him in great joy. By the poison that had entered his system Bhima became stronger than before.

Kunti sent for Vidura and told him in secret:

"Duryodhana is wicked and cruel. He seeks to kill Bhima since he wants to rule the kingdom. I am worried."

Vidura replied: "What you say is true, but keep your thoughts to yourself. For if the wicked Duryodhana is accused or blamed, his anger and hatred will only increase. Your sons are blessed with long life. You need have no fear on that account."

Yudhishthira also warned Bhima and said: "Be silent over the matter. Hereafter, we have to be careful and help one another and protect ourselves."

Duryodhana was surprised to see Bhima come back alive. His jealousy and hatred increased. He heaved a deep sigh and pined away in sorrow.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #19 on: June 25, 2011, 03:24:01 PM »
12. Karna

THE Pandavas and the Kauravas learnt the practice of arms first  from Kripacharya and later from Drona. A day was fixed for a test and exhibition of their proficiency in the use of arms in the presence of the royal family and as the public had also been invited to witness the performance of their beloved princes. There was a large and enthusiastic crowd.

Arjuna displayed superhuman skill with his weapons and the vast assemblage was lost in wonder and admiration. Duryodhana's brow was dark with envy and hate.

At the close of the day, there came suddenly from the entrance of the arena a sound, loud and compelling like thunder the sound made by the slapping of mighty arms in challenge. All eyes turned in that direction. They saw enter through the crowd, which made way in awed silence, a godlike youth from whom light and power seemed to emanate. He looked proudly round him, cast a negligent salute to Drona and Kripa, and strode up to Arjuna. The brothers, all unaware, by the bitter irony of fate, of their common blood, faced one another; for it was Karna.

Karna addressed Arjuna in a voice deep as rumbling thunder: "Arjuna, I shall show greater skill than you have displayed."

With Drona's leave, Karna the lover of battle, then and there duplicated all of Arjuna's feats with careless ease. Great was Duryodhana's exultation. He threw his arms round Karna and said: "Welcome, O thou with mighty arms, whom good fortune has sent to us. I and this kingdom of the Kurus are at your command."

Said Karna: "I, Karna, am grateful, O king. Only two things I seek, your love and single combat with Partha."

Duryodhana clasped Karna again to his bosom and said: "My prosperity is all thine to enjoy."

As love flooded Duryodhana's heart, even so did blazing wrath fill Arjuna, who felt affronted. And glaring fiercely at Karna who stood, stately as a mountain peak, receiving the greetings of the Kaurava brothers, he said: "O Karna, slain by me thou shalt presently go to the hell appointed for those who intrude uninvited and prate unbidden."

Karna laughed in scorn: "This arena is open to all, O Arjuna, and not to you alone. Might is the sanction of sovereignty and the law is based on it. But what is the use of mere talk which is the weapon of the weak? Shoot arrows instead of words."

Thus challenged, Arjuna, with Drona's permission, hastily embraced his brothers and stood ready for combat. While Karna, taking leave of the Kuru brothers, confronted him weapon in hand.

And, as though the divine parents of the heroes sought to encourage their offspring and witness this fateful battle, Indra, the lord of the thunderclouds, and Bhaskara of the in finite rays, simultaneously appeared in the heavens.

When she saw Karna, Kunti knew him as her first born and fainted away. Vidura instructed the maidservant to attend upon her and she revived. She stood stupefied with anguish not knowing what to do.

As they were about to join in battle, Kripa, well-versed in the rules of single combat, stepped between them and addressed Karna:

"This prince, who is ready to fight with thee, is the son of Pritha and Pandu and a scion of the Kuru race. Reveal O mighty armed thy parentage and the race rendered illustrious by thy birth. It is only after knowing thy lineage that Partha can fight with thee, for high-born princes cannot engage in single combat with unknown adventurers."

When he heard these words, Karna bent down his head like a lotus under the weight of rainwater.

Duryodhana stood up and said: "If the combat cannot take place merely because Karna is not a prince, why, that is easily remedied. I crown Karna as the king of Anga." He then obtained the assent of Bhishma and Dhritarashtra, performed all the necessary rites and invested Karna with the sovereignty of the kingdom of Anga giving him the crown, jewels and other royal insignia.

At that moment, as the combat between the youthful heroes seemed about to commence, the old charioteer Adhiratha, who was the foster-father of Karna, entered the assembly, staff in hand and quaking with fear.

No sooner did he see him, that Karna, the newly crowned king of Anga, bowed his head and did humble obeisance in all filial reverence. The old man called him son, embraced him with his thin and trembling arms, and wept with joy wetting with tears of love his head already moistened by the water of the coronation.

At this sight, Bhima roared with laughter and said: "O he is after all only the son of a charioteer! Take up the driving whip then as befits thy parentage. Thou art not worthy of death at the hands of Arjuna. Nor shouldst thou reign in Anga as a king."

At this outrageous speech, Karna's lips trembled with anguish and he speechlessly looked up at the setting sun with a deep sigh.

But Duryodhana broke in indignantly:

"It is unworthy of you, O Vrikodara, to speak thus. Valor is the hallmark of a kshatriya. Nor is there much sense in tracing great heroes and mighty rivers to their sources. I could give you hundreds of instances of great men of humble birth and I know awkward questions might be asked of your own origin. Look at this warrior, his godlike form and bearing, his armor and earrings, and his skill with weapons. Surely there is some mystery about him. For how could a tiger be born of an antelope? Unworthy of being king of Anga, didst thou say? I verily hold him worthy to rule the whole world."

In generous wrath, Duryodhana took Karna in his chariot and drove away.

The sun set and the crowd dispersed in tumult. There were groups loud in talk under the light of the lamps, some glorifying Arjuna, others Karna, and others again Duryodhana according to their predilection.

Indra foresaw that a supreme contest was inevitable between his son Arjuna and Karna. And he put on the garb of a brahmana and came to Karna, who was reputed for his charity and begged of him his earrings and armor. The Sun god had already warned Karna in a dream that Indra would try to deceive him in this manner.

Still, Karna could not bring himself to refuse any gift that was asked of him. Hence he cut off the earrings and armor with which he was born and gave them to the brahmana.

Indra, the king of gods, was filled with surprise and joy. After accepting the gift, he praised Karna as having done what no one else would do, and, shamed into generosity, bade Karna ask for any boon he wanted.

Karna replied: "I desire to get your weapon, the Sakti, which has the power to kill enemies." Indra granted the boon, but with a fateful proviso. He said: "You can use this weapon against but one enemy, and it will kill him whosoever he may be. But this killing done, this weapon will no longer be available to you but will return to me." With these words Indra disappeared.

Karna went to Parasurama and became his disciple by representing to him that he was a brahmana. He learnt of Parasurama the mantra for using the master weapon known as Brahmastra.

One day Parasurama was reclining with the head on Karna's lap when a stinging worm burrowed into Karna's thigh. Blood began to flow and the pain was terrible. But Karna bore it without tremor lest he should disturb the master's sleep. Parasurama awoke and saw the blood that had poured from the wound.

He said: "Dear pupil, you are not a brahmana. A kshatriya alone can remain unmoved under all bodily torments. Tell me the truth."

Karna confessed that he had told a lie in presenting himself as a brahmana and that he was in fact the son of a charioteer.

Parasurama in his anger pronounced this curse on him: "Since you deceived your guru, the Brahmastra you have learnt shall fail you at the fated moment. You will be unable to recall the invocatory mantra when your hour comes."

It was because of this curse that at the crisis of his last fight with Arjuna, Karna was not able to recall the Brahmastra spell, though he had remembered it till then. Karna was the faithful friend of Duryodhana and remained loyally with the Kauravas until the end.

After the fall of Bhishma and Drona, Karna became the leader of the Kaurava army and fought brilliantly for two days. In the end, the wheel of his chariot stuck in the ground and be was not able to lift it free and drive the chariot along. While he was in this predicament, Arjuna killed him. Kunti was sunk in sorrow, all the more poignant because she had, at that time, to conceal it.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #20 on: June 25, 2011, 03:28:48 PM »
13. Drona

DRONA, the son of a brahmana named Bharadwaja, after completing his study of the Vedas and the Vedangas, devoted himself to the art of archery and became a great master.

Drupada, the son of the king of Panchala, who was a friend of Bharadwaja, was a fellow-student of Drona in the hermitage and there grew up between them the generous intimacy of youth.

Drupada, in his boyish enthusiasm, used often to tell Drona that he would give him half his kingdom when he ascended the throne. After completing his studies, Drona married the sister of Kripa, and a son Aswatthama was born to them.

Drona was passionately attached to his wife and son, and, for their sake, desired to acquire wealth, a thing that he had never cared for before. Learning that Parasurama was distributing his riches among the brahmanas, he first went to him. But he was too late as Parasurama had already given away all his wealth and was about to retire to the forest.

But, anxious to do something for Drona, Parasurama offered to teach him the use of weapons, of which he was supreme master.

Drona joyfully agreed, and great archer as he already was, he became unrivalled master of the military art, worthy of eager welcome as preceptor in any princely house in that warlike age.

Meanwhile, Drupada had ascended the throne of Panchala on the death of his father. Remembering their early intimacy and Drupada's expressions of readiness to serve him, even to the extent of sharing his kingdom, Drona went to him in the confident hope of being treated generously.

But he found the king very different from the student. When he introduced himself as an old friend, Drupada, far from being glad to see him, felt it an intolerable presumption.

Drunk with power and wealth, Drupada said: "O brahmana, how dare you address me familiarly as your friend? What friendship can there be between a throned king and a wandering beggar? What a fool must you be to presume on some long past acquaintance to claim friend ship with a king who rules a kingdom? How can a pauper be the friend of a wealthy man, or an ignorant boor of a learned scholar, or a coward of a hero? Friendship can exist only between equals. A vagrant beggar cannot be the friend of a sovereign." Drona was turned out of the palace with scorn in his ears and a blazing wrath in his heart.

He made a mental vow to punish the arrogant king for this insult and his repudiation of the sacred claims of early friendship. His next move in search of employment was to go to Hastinapura, where he spent a few days, in retirement, in the house of his brother-in-law Kripacharya.

One day, the princes were playing with a ball outside the precincts of the city, and in the course of the game, the ball as well as Yudhishthira's ring fell into a well. The princes had gathered round the well and saw the ring shining from the bottom through the clear water. But could see no way of getting it out. They did not however, notice that a brahmana of dark complexion stood nearby watching them with a smile.

"Princes," he surprised them by saying, "you are the descendants of the heroic Bharata race. Why cannot you take out the ball as anyone skilled in arms should know how to do? Shall I do it for you?"

Yudhishthira laughed and said in fun: "O brahmana, if you take out the ball, we will see that you have a good meal in the house of Kripacharya." Then Drona the brahmana stranger, took a blade of grass and sent it forth into the well after reciting certain words of power for propelling it as an arrow.

The blade of grass straightway sped and stuck into the ball. Afterwards he sent a number of similar blades in succession which clinging together formed a chain, wherewith Drona took out the ball.

The princes were lost in amazement and delight and begged of him to get the ring also. Drona borrowed a bow, fixed an arrow on the string and sent it right into the ring. The arrow rebounding brought up the ring and the brahmana handed it to the prince with a smile.

Seeing these feats, the princes were astonished and said: "We salute you, O brahmana. Who are you? Is there anything we can do for you?" and they bowed to him.

He said: "O princes, go to Bhishma and learn from him who I am."

From the description given by the princes, Bhishma knew that the brahmana was none other than the famous master Drona. He decided that Drona was the fittest person to impart further instruction to the Pandavas and the Kauravas. So, Bhishma received him with special honor and employed him to instruct the princes in the use of arms.

As soon as the Kauravas and the Pandavas had acquired mastery in the science of arms, Drona sent Karna and Duryodhana to seize Drupada and bring him alive, in discharge of the duty they owed to him as their master.

They went as ordered by him, but could not accomplish their task. Then the master sent forth Arjuna on the same errand. He defeated Drupada in battle and brought him and his minister captives to Drona.

Then Drona smilingly addressed Drupada: "Great king, do not fear for your life. In our boyhood we were companions but you were pleased to forget it and dishonor me. You told me that a king alone could be friend to a king. Now I am a king, having conquered your kingdom. Still I seek to regain my friendship with you, and so I give you half of your kingdom that has become mine by conquest. Your creed is that friendship is possible only between equals. And we shall now be equals, each owning a half of your kingdom."

Drona thought this sufficient revenge for the insult he had suffered, set Drupada at liberty and treated him with honor. Drupada's pride was thus humbled but, since hate is never extinguished by retaliation, and few things are harder to bear than the pangs of wounded vanity, hatred of Drona and a wish to be revenged on him became the ruling passion of Drupada's life.

The king performed tapas, underwent fasts and conducted sacrifices in order to win the gratified gods to bless him with a son who should slay Drona and a daughter who should wed Arjuna.

His efforts were crowned with success with the birth of Dhrishtadyumna who commanded the Pandava army at Kurukshetra and, helped by a strange combination of circumstances, slew the otherwise unconquerable Drona, and birth of Draupadi, the consort of the Pandavas.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #21 on: June 25, 2011, 03:29:49 PM »
14. The Wax Palace

THE jealousy of Duryodhana began to grow at the sight of the physical strength of Bhima and the dexterity of Arjuna. Karna and Sakuni became Duryodhana's evil counsellors in planning wily stratagems.

As for poor Dhritarashtra, he was a wise man no doubt and he also loved his brother's sons, but he was weak of will and dotingly attached to his own children. For his children's sake the worse became the better reason, and he would sometimes even knowingly follow the wrong path.

Duryodhana sought in various ways to kill the Pandavas. It was by means of the secret help rendered by Vidura who wanted to save the family from a great sin, that the Pandavas escaped with their lives.

One unforgivable offence of the Pandavas in the eyes of Duryodhana was that the people of the city used to praise them openly and declare in season and out of season that Yudhishthira alone was fit to be the king.

They would flock together and argue:

"Dhritarashtra could never be king for he was born blind. It is not proper that he should now hold the kingdom in his hands. Bhishma cannot be king either, because he is devoted to truth and to his vow that he would not be a king. Hence Yudhishthira alone should be crowned as king. He alone can rule the Kuru race and the kingdom with justice." Thus people talked everywhere. These words were poison to Duryodhana's ears, and made him writhe and burn with jealousy.

He went to Dhritarashtra and complained bitterly of the public talk: "Father, the citizens babble irrelevant nonsense. They have no respect even for such venerable persons as Bhishma and yourself. They say that Yudhishthira should be immediately crowned king. This would bring disaster on us. You were set aside because of your blindness, and your brother became the king. If Yudhishthira is to succeed his father, where do we come? What chance has our progeny? After Yudhishthira his son, and his son's son, and then his son will be the kings. We will sink into poor relations dependent on them even for our food. To live in hell would be better than that!"

At these words, Dhritarashtra began to ponder and said: "Son, what you say is true. Still Yudhishthira will not stray from the path of virtue. He loves all. He has truly inherited all the excellent virtues of his deceased father. People praise him and will support him, and all the ministers of the State and commanders of armies, to whom Pandu had endeared himself by his nobility of character, will surely espouse his cause. As for the people, they idolise the Pandavas. We cannot oppose them with any chance of success. If we do injustice, the citizens will rise in insurrection and either kill us or expel us. We shall only cover ourselves with ignominy."

Duryodhana replied: "Your fears are baseless. Bhishma will at worst be neutral, while Ashwatthama is devoted to me, which means that his father Drona and uncle Kripa will also be on our side. Vidura cannot openly oppose us, if for no other reason, because he has not the strength. Send the Pandavas immediately to Varanavata. I tell you the solemn truth that my cup of suffering is full and I can bear no more. It pierces my heart and renders me sleepless and makes my life a torment. After sending the Pandavas to Varanavata we shall try to strengthen our party."

Later, some politicians were prevailed upon to join Duryodhana's party and advise the king in the matter. Kanika, the minister of Sakuni, was their leader. "O king," he said, "guard yourselves against the sons of Pandu, for their goodness and influence are a menace to you and yours. The Pandavas are the sons of your brother, but the nearer the kin, the closer and deadlier the danger. They are very strong."

Sakuni's minister continued: "Be not wroth with me if I say a king should be mighty in action as in name, for nobody will believe in strength which is never displayed. State affairs should be kept secret and the earliest indication to the public, of a wise plan, should be its execution. Also, evils must be eradicated promptly for a thorn which has been allowed to remain in the body may cause a festering wound. Powerful enemies should be destroyed and even a weak foe should not be neglected since a mere spark, if over looked, may cause a forest fire. A strong enemy should be destroyed by means of stratagem and it would be folly to show mercy to him. O king, guard yourself against the sons of Pandu. They are very powerful."

Duryodhana told Dhritarashtra of his success in securing adherents: "I have bought the goodwill of the king's attendants with gifts of wealth and honor. I have won over his ministers to our cause. If you will adroitly prevail upon the Pandavas to go to Varanavata, the city and the whole kingdom will take our side. They will not have a friend left here. Once the kingdom has become ours, there will be no power for harm left in them, and it may even be possible to let them come back."

When many began to say what he himself wished to believe, Dhritarashtra's mind was shaken and he yielded to his sons' counsels. It only remained to give effect to the plot.

The ministers began to praise the beauty of Varanavata in the hearing of the Pandavas and made mention of the fact that a great festival in honor of Siva would be conducted there with all pomp and splendor.

The unsuspecting Pandavas were easily persuaded, especially when Dhritarashtra also told them in tones of great affection that they should certainly go and witness the festivities, not only because they were worth seeing but because the people of the place were eager to welcome them.

The Pandavas took leave of Bhishma and other elders and went to Varanavata. Duryodhana was elated. He plotted with Karna and Sakuni to kill Kunti and her sons at Varanavata. They sent for Purochana, a minister, and gave him secret instructions which he bound himself to carry out faithfully.

Before the Pandavas proceeded to Varanavata, Purochana, true to his instructions, hastened to the spot well in advance and had a beautiful palace built for their reception. Combustible materials like jute, lac, ghee, oil, and fat were used in the construction of the palace. The materials for the plastering of the walls were also inflammable. He skilfully filled up various parts of the building with dry things that could catch fire easily, and had inviting seats and bedsteads disposed at the most combustible places.

Every convenience was furnished for the Pandavas to dwell in the city without fear, until the palace was built. When the Pandavas had settled down in the wax house, the idea was to set fire to it at night when they were sound asleep.

The ostentatious love and solicitude with which the Pandavas had been received and treated would obviate all suspicion and the fire would be taken as a sad case of pure accident. No one would dream of blaming the Kauravas.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #22 on: June 25, 2011, 03:30:36 PM »
15. The Escape Of The Pandavas

AFTER taking reverential leave of the elders and embracing their comrades, the Pandavas proceeded to Varanavata. The citizens accompanied them a part of their way and returned unwillingly to the city. Vidura pointedly warned Yudhishthira in words intelligible only to the prince:

"He alone will escape from danger who forestalls the intentions of an astute enemy. There are weapons sharper than those made of steel. And the wise man who would escape destruction must know the means to guard against them. The conflagration that devastates a forest cannot hurt a rat which shelters itself in a hole or a porcupine which burrows in the earth. The wise man knows his bearings by looking at the stars."

Though they had started on their journey in sunshine of joy, they now proceeded in a dark cloud of sorrow and anxiety.

The people of Varanavata were very happy to learn of the coming of the Pandavas to their city and welcomed them. After a brief stay in other houses while the palace specially meant for them was being got ready, they moved into it under Purochana's guidance.

It was named "Sivam" which means prosperity, and that was the name which, in ghastly irony, was given to the deathtrap. Yudhishthira diligently examined the whole place bearing in mind Vidura's warning and verified that the building was without a shadow of doubt constructed with combustible material.

Yudhishthira told Bhima: "Though we know very well that the palace is a trap of death, we should not make Purochana suspect that we know his plot. We should get away at the right moment but escape would be difficult if we gave room for any suspicion."

So they stayed in that house to all appearance free from care. Meanwhile, Vidura had sent an expert miner who met them in secret and said: "My password is the veiled warning Vidura gave you. I have been sent to help you for your protection."

This was meant to indicate to Yudhishthira and to him alone, Duryodhana's hideous plot and the means of escape from danger. Yudhishthira answered that he had grasped Vidura's meaning, and later he communicated it to Kuntidevi.

Henceforward the miner worked for many days in secret, unknown to Purochana, and completed a subterranean egress from the wax house right under and across the walls and the moat, which ran round the precincts.

Purochana had his quarters at the gateway of the palace. The Pandavas kept armed vigil during night, but by day they used to go out hunting in the forest, to all appearance bent on pleasure but really to make themselves familiar with the forest paths.

As has already been said, they carefully kept to themselves their knowledge of the wicked plot against their lives. On his side Purochana, anxious to lull all suspicion and make the murderous fire seem an accident, waited fully a year before putting the plot into effect.

At last Purochana felt he had waited long enough. And the watchful Yudhishthira, knowing that the fated moment had arrived, called his brothers together and told them that now or never was the time for them to escape.

Kuntidevi arranged a sumptuous feast for the attendants that day. Her idea was to lull them to well-fed sleep at night.

At midnight, Bhima set fire to the palace in several places. Kuntidevi and the Pandava brothers hurried out through the subterranean passage, groping their way out in the darkness. Presently, there was a roaring fire all over the palace and a fast swelling crowd of frightened citizens all around in loud and helpless lamentation.

Some bustled aimlessly in futile efforts to put out the conflagration and all joined in the cry: "Alas! Alas! This surely is Duryodhana's work, and he is killing the sinless Pandavas!"

The palace was reduced to ashes. Purochana's residence was enveloped in flames before he could escape and he fell an unpitied victim to his own wicked plot.

The people of Varanavata, sent the following message to Hastinapura: "The palace which was the abode of the Pandavas has burnt down and no one in it escaped alive."

Vyasa has beautifully described the then mental state of Dhritarashtra: "Just as the water of a deep pool is cool at the bottom and warm on the surface, so the heart of Dhritarashtra was at once warm with joy and chilled with sorrow."

Dhritarashtra and his sons cast off their royal garments in token of mourning for the Pandavas whom they believed consumed in the fire. They dressed themselves in single garments as became sorrowful kinsmen and went to the river and performed the propitiatory funeral rites.

No outward show of heart broken bereavement was omitted. It was noticed by some that Vidura was not so overcome by sorrow as the others and this was set down to his philosophical bent of mind. But the real reason was that he knew that the Pandavas had escaped to safety.

When he looked sad, he was in fact following with his mind's eye the weary wanderings of the Pandavas. Seeing that Bhishma was sunk in sorrow, Vidura secretly comforted him by revealing to him the story of their successful escape.

Bhima saw that his mother and brothers were exhausted by their nightly vigils as well as by fear and anxiety. He therefore carried his mother on his shoulders and took Nakula and Sahadeva on his hips, supporting Yudhishthira and Arjuna with his two hands.

Thus heavily laden, he strode effortlessly like a lordly elephant forcing his way through the forest and pushing aside the shrubs and trees that obstructed his path.

When they reached the Ganges, there was a boat ready for them in charge of a boatman who knew their secret. They crossed the river in the darkness, and entering a mighty forest they went on at night in darkness that wrapped them like a shroud and in a silence broken hideously by the frightful noises of wild animals.

At last, quite fordone by toil, they sat down unable to bear the pangs of thirst and overcome by the drowsiness of sheer fatigue. Kuntidevi said: "I do not care even if the sons of Dhritarashtra are here to seize me, but I must stretch my legs." She forthwith laid herself down and was sunk in sleep.

Bhima forced his way about the tangled forest in search of water in the darkness. And finding a pool, he wetted his upper garment, made cups of lotus leaves and brought water to his mother and brothers who were perishing with thirst.

Then, while the others slept in merciful forgetfulness of their woes, Bhima alone sat awake absorbed in deep thought. "Do not the plants and the creepers of the forest mutually help each other and live in peace?" he reflected; "why should the wicked Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana try to injure us in these ways?" Sinless himself, Bhima could not understand the springs of sinfulness in others and was lost in grief.

The Pandavas marched on, suffering many hardships and overcoming many dangers. Part of the way, they would carry their mother to make better speed. Sometimes, tired beyond even heroic endurance, they would pause and rest. Sometimes, full of life and the glorious strength of youth, they would race with each other.

They met Bhagavan Vyasa on the way. All of them bowed before him and received encouragement and wise counsel from him.

When Kunti told him of the sorrows that had befallen them, Vyasa consoled her with these words: "No virtuous man is strong enough to live in virtue at all times, nor is any sinner bad enough to exist in one welter of sin. Life is a tangled web and there is no one in the world who has not done both good and evil. Each and everyone has to bear the consequence of his actions. Do not give way to sorrow."

Then they put on the garb of brahmanas, as advised by Vyasa, went to the city of Ekachakra and stayed there in a brahmana's house, waiting for better days.
 
 
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2011, 03:32:05 PM »
16. The Slaying Of Bakasura

IN the city of Ekachakra, the Pandavas stayed in the guise of brahmanas, begging their food in the brahmana streets and bringing what they got to their mother, who would wait anxiously till their return. If they did not come back in time, she would be worried, fearing that some evil might have befallen them.

Kunti would divide the food they brought in two equal portions. One half would go to Bhima. The other half would be shared by the other brothers and the mother. Bhima, being born of the Wind god had great strength and a mighty appetite.

Vrikodara, one of the names of Bhima, means wolf-bellied, and a wolf, you know, looks always famished. And however much it might eat, its hunger is never quite satisfied.

Bhima's insatiable hunger and the scanty food he used to get at Ekachakra went ill together. And he daily grew thin, which caused much distress to his mother and brothers. Sometime later, Bhima became acquainted with a potter for whom he helped and fetched clay. The potter, in return, presented him with a big earthen pot that became an object of merriment to the street urchins.

One day, when the other brothers had gone to beg for alms, Bhimasena stayed behind with his mother, and they heard loud lamentations from the house of their brahmana landlord. Some great calamity surely had befallen the poor family and Kunti went inside to learn what it was.

The brahmana and his wife could hardly speak for weeping, but, at last the brahmana said to his wife: "O unfortunate and foolish woman, though time and again I wished we should leave this city for good, you would not agree. You persisted in saying that you were born and bred here and here you would stay where your parents and relations had lived and died. How can I think of losing you who have been to me at once my life's mate, loving mother, the wife who bore my children, nay, my all in all? I cannot send you to death while I keep myself alive. This little girl has been given to us by God as a trust to be handed over in time to a worthy man. It is unrighteous to sacrifice her who is a gift of God to perpetuate the race. It is equally impossible to allow this other, our son, to be killed. How can we live after consigning to death our only solace in life and our hope for the here after? If he is lost, who would pour libations for us and our ancestors? Alas! You did not pay heed to my words, and this is the deadly fruit of your perversity. If I give up my life, this girl and boy will surely die soon for want of a protector. What shall I do? It is best that all of us perish together" and the brahmana burst forth sobbing.

The wife replied: "I have been a good wife to you, and done my duty by bearing you a daughter and a son. You are able, and I am not, to bring up and protect your children. Just as cast out offal is pounced upon and seized by rapacious birds, a poor widowed woman is an easy prey to wicked and dishonest people. Dogs fight for a cloth wet with ghee, and in pulling it hither and thither in unclean greed, tear it into foul rags. It would be best if I am handed over to the Rakshasa. Blessed indeed is the woman who passes to the other world, while her husband is alive. This, as you know, is what the scriptures say. Bid me farewell. Take care of my children. I have been happy with you. I have performed many meritorious actions. By my faithful devotion to you, I am sure of heaven. Death has no terror for one who has been a good wife. After I am gone, take another wife. Gladden me with a brave smile, give me your blessing, and send me to the Rakshasa."

Hearing these words of his wife, the brahmana tenderly embraced her and, utterly overcome by her love and courage, he wept like a child. When he could find his voice, he replied: "O beloved and noble one, what words are these? Can I bear to live without you? The first duty of a married man is to protect his wife. I should indeed be a pitiful sinner if I lived after giving you up to the Rakshasa, sacrificing both love and duty."

The daughter who was hearing this piteous conversation, now interposed with sobs: "Listen to me, child though I be, and then do what is proper. It is me alone that you can spare to the Rakshasa. By sacrificing one soul, that is, myself, you can save the others. Let me be the little boat to take you across this river of calamity. In like manner, a woman without a guardian becomes the sport of wicked people who drag her hither and thither. It is impossible for me to protect two fatherless orphans and they will perish miserably like fish in a waterless pond. If both of you pass away, both I and this little baby brother of mine will soon perish unprotected in this hard world. If this family of ours can be saved from destruction by my single death, what a good death mine would be! Even if you consider my welfare alone, you should send me to the Rakshasa."

At these brave words of the poor child, the parents tenderly embraced her and wept. Seeing them all in tears the boy, hardly more than a baby, started up with glowing eyes, lisping: "Father, do not weep. Mother, do not weep. Sister, do not weep," and he went to each and sat on their lap by turns.

Then he rose up took a stick of firewood and brandishing it about, said in his sweet childish treble: "I shall kill the Rakshasa with this stick." The child's action and speech made them smile in the midst of their tears, but only added to their great sorrow.

Feeling this was the moment for intervention, Kuntidevi entered and inquired for the cause of their sorrow and whether there was anything she could do to help them.

The brahmana said: "Mother, this is a sorrow far beyond your aid. There is a cave near the city, where lives a cruel and terribly strong Rakshasa named Bakasura. He forcibly seized this city and kingdom thirteen years ago. Since then he has held us in cruel thraldom. The kshatriya ruler of this country has fled to the city of Vetrakiya and is unable to protect us. This Rakshasa formerly used to issue from his cave whenever he liked and, mad with hunger, indiscriminately kill and eat men, women and children in this city. The citizens prayed to the Rakshasa to come to some sort of stipulation in place of this promiscuous slaughter. They prayed: 'Do not kill us wantonly at your whim and pleasure. Once a week we shall bring you sufficient meat, rice, curds and intoxicating liquors and many other delicacies. We will deliver these to you in a carriage drawn by two bullocks driven by a human being taken from each house in turn. You can make a repast of the rice, along with the bullocks and the man, but refrain from this mad orgy of slaughter.' The Rakshasa agreed to the proposal. From that day, this strong Rakshasa has been protecting this kingdom from foreign raids and wild beasts. This arrangement has been in force for many years. No hero has been found to free this country from this pest, for the Rakshasa has invariably defeated and killed all the brave men who tried. Mother, our legitimate sovereign is unable to protect us. The citizens of a country, whose king is weak, should not marry and beget children. A worthy family life, with culture and domestic happiness, is possible only under the rule of a good, strong king. Wife, wealth and other things are not safe, if there be no proper king ruling over us. And having long suffered with the sight of others' sorrow, our own turn has come now to send a person as prey to the Rakshasa. I have not the means to purchase a substitute. None of us can bear to live after sending one of us to a cruel death, and so I shall go with my whole family to him. Let the wicked glutton gorge himself with all of us. I have pained you with these things, but you wished to know. Only God can help us, but we have lost all hope even of that."

The political truths contained in this story of Ekachakra are noteworthy and suggestive. Kunti talked the matter over with Bhimasena and returned to the brahmana. She said: "Good man, do not despair. God is great. I have five sons. One of them will take the food to the Rakshasa."

The brahmana jumped up in amazed surprise, but then shook his head sadly and would not hear of the substituted sacrifice. Kunti said: "O brahmana, do not be afraid. My son is endowed with superhuman powers derived from mantras and will certainly kill this Rakshasa, as I have myself seen him kill many other such Rakshasas. But keep this a secret, for, if you reveal it, his power will come to naught."

Kunti's fear was that, if the story got noised abroad, Duryodhana's men would see the hand of the Pandavas, and find out their where abouts. Bhima was filled with unbounded joy and enthusiasm at the arrangement made by Kunti.

The other brothers returned to the house with alms. Dharmaputra saw the face of Bhimasena radiant with joy to which it had long been a stranger and inferred that he was resolved on some hazardous adventure and questioned Kunti who told him everything.

Yudhishthira said: "What is this? Is not this rash and thoughtless? Relying on Bhima's strength we sleep without care or fear. It is not through Bhima's strength and daring that we hope to regain the kingdom that has been seized by our deceitful enemies? Was it not through the prowess of Bhima that we escaped from the wax palace? And you are risking the life of Bhima who is our present protection and future hope. I fear your many trials have clouded your judgment!"

Kuntidevi replied: "Dear sons, we have lived happily for many years in the house of this brahmana. Duty, nay, man's highest virtue, is to repay the benefit he has enjoyed by doing good in his turn. I know the heroism of Bhima and have no fears. Remember who carried us from Varanavata and who killed the demon Hidimba. It is our duty to be of service to this brahmana family."

After a fierce battle, the Rakshasa Bakasura was slain by Bhima who pretended to bring him a cartload of food.
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #24 on: June 26, 2011, 01:12:23 PM »
 Dear Nusrat madam
   Thank you again,madam.Again you have provided us with some interesting mythological stories.I wish I will learn a lot from these.

With Regards
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2011, 06:42:38 PM »
Dear Shipra..Thanks! Inspired again...
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2011, 02:47:26 PM »
Interesting Nusrat Madam.My first knowledge of Mahabharata was tv serial that I watched in Dur-darshan. Then I started reading mythology.
Now its interesting to read it again after such a long time.

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #27 on: June 29, 2011, 06:01:45 PM »
Thank U NK Miss for going through the post :)
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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #28 on: June 29, 2011, 06:04:05 PM »
17. Draupadi's Swayamvaram

WHILE the Pandavas were living in disguise as brahmanas at Ekachakrapura, news of the swayamvara of Draupadi, the daughter of Drupada, King of Panchala, reached them. Many brahmanas of Ekachakrapura planned to go to Panchala in the hope of receiving the customary gifts and to see the festivities and pageant of a royal wedding. Kunti, with her motherly instinct, read her sons' desire to go to Panchala and win Draupadi. So she told Yudhishthira: "We have been in this city so long that it is time to think of going somewhere else. We have seen these hills and dales till we are tired of them. The alms doled out to us are diminishing and it is not good to outstay your entertainment. Let us therefore go to Drupada's kingdom which is reputed to be fair and prosperous." Kunti was second to none in worldly wisdom and sagacity and could gracefully divine her sons' thoughts and spare them the awkwardness of expressing them.

The brahmanas went in groups to witness the swayamvara and the Pandavas mingled with them in the guise of brahmanas. After a long march the party reached the beautiful city of Drupada and billeted themselves in the house of a potter as obscure brahmanas of no note.

Though Drupada and Drona were outwardly at peace, the former never could forget or forgive the humiliation he had suffered at the latter's hands. Drupada's one wish was to give his daughter in marriage to Arjuna.

Drona loved Arjuna so dearly that he could hardly look upon his pupil's father-in-law as his deadly foe. And if there were a war, Drupada would be all the stronger for being Arjuna's father-in-law. When he heard the news of the destruction of the Pandavas at Varanavata, he was plunged in sorrow but was relieved by a later rumour that they had escaped.

The marriage hall was beautifully decorated and built amidst a finely laid out group of new guest-houses designed to accommodate the swayamvara suitors and guests. Attractive sights and sports had been arranged for public entertainment and there were glorious festivities for fourteen days continuously.

A mighty steel bow was placed in the marriage hall. The candidate for the princess' hand was required to string the bow and with it shoot a steel arrow through the central aperture of a revolving disk at a target placed on high.

This required almost superhuman strength and skill, and Drupada proclaimed that the hero who would win his daughter should perform this feat. Many valiant princes had gathered there from all parts of Bharatavarsha. The sons of Dhritarashtra were there as well as Karna, Krishna, Sisupala, Jarasandha, and Salya.

Besides the competitors there was a huge concourse of spectators and visitors. The noise that issued therefrom resembled the uproar of the ocean and over it all arose the auspicious sound of festal music from hundreds of instruments.

Dhrishtadyumna on horseback rode in front of his sister Draupadi seated on an elephant. Fresh from her auspicious bridal bath, and clad in flowing silk Draupadi dismounted and entered the swayamvara hall, seeming to fill it with the sweetness of her presence and perfect beauty.

Garland in hand, and coyly glancing at the valiant princes, who for their part looked at her in speechless admiration, she ascended the dais. The brahmanas repeated the usual mantras and offered oblations in the fire. After the peace invocation had been chanted and the flourish of music had stopped, Dhrishtadyumna took Draupadi by the hand and led her to the center of the hall.

Then he proclaimed in loud, clear tones: "Hear ye, O princes seated in state in this assembly, here is the bow. There is the target and here are the arrows. He who sends five arrows in succession through the hole of the wheel and unerringly hits the target, if he also be of good family and presence, shall win my sister." Then he narrated to Draupadi the name, ancestry and description of the several suitors assembled there.

Many noted princes rose one after another and tried in vain to string the bow. It was too heavy and stiff for them, and they returned to their places abashed and ashamed.

Sisupala, Jarasandha, Salya, and Duryodhana were among these unsuccessful aspirants. When Karna came forward, all the assemblage expected that he would be successful but he failed by just a hair's breadth and the string slid back flashing and the mighty bow jumped out of his hands like a thing of life.

There was great clamor and angry talk, some even saying that it was an impossible test put up to shame the kings. Then all noises were hushed, for there arose from among the group of brahmanas a youth who advanced towards the bow.

It was Arjuna who had come disguised as a brahmana. When he stood up; wild clamor burst forth again from the crowd.  The brahmanas themselves were divided in opinion. Some being highly delighted that there should be among them a lad of mettle enough to compete, while others more envious or worldly wise, said what impudence it was for this brahmacharin to enter the lists when heroes like Karna, Salya, and others had met with failure.

But there were others again who spoke differently as they noted the noble and shapely proportions of the youth. They said: "We feel from his appearance that he is going to win. He looks sure of himself and he certainly knows what he is about. The brahmana may be physically weaker, but is it all a matter of brute strength? What about the power of austerities? Why should he not try?" And they blessed him.

Arjuna approached the place where the bow lay and asked Dhrishtadyumna: "Can a brahmana try to bend the bow?"

Dhrishtadyumna answered: "O best of brahmanas, my sister will become the life-mate of any one of good family and presence, who bends the bow and shoots the target. My words stand and there will be no going back on them."

Then Arjuna meditated on Narayana, the Supreme God, and took the bow in his hand and strung it with ease. He placed an arrow on the string and looked around him with a smile, while the crowd was lost in spellbound silence.

Then without pause or hesitation he shot five arrows in succession through the revolving mechanism right into the target so that it fell down. The crowd was in tumult and there was a blare of musical instruments.

The brahmanas who were seated in the assembly in large numbers sent forth shouts of joy, waving aloft their deer-skins in exultation as though the whole community had won Draupadi. The uproar that followed was indescribable.

Draupadi shone with a fresh beauty. Her face glowed with happiness which streamed out of her eyes as she looked on Arjuna. She approached him and placed the garland on his neck. Yudhishthira, Nakula, and Sahadeva returned in haste to the potter's house to convey the glad news immediately to their mother.

Bhima alone remained in the assembly fearing that some danger might befall Arjuna from the kshatriyas. As anticipated by Bhima, the princes were loud in wrath. They said: "The practice of swayamvara, the choosing of a bridegroom, is not prevalent among the brahmanas. If this maiden does not care to marry a prince, she should remain a virgin and burn herself on the pyre. How can a brahmana marry her? We should oppose this marriage and prevent it so as to protect righteousness and save the practice of swayamvara from the peril which threatens it." A free fight seemed imminent.

Bhima plucked a tree by the roots, and stripping it of foliage, stood armed with this formidable bludgeon, by the side of Arjuna ready for any event. Draupadi said nothing but stood holding on to the skirts of the deer-skin in which Arjuna was clad.

Krishna, Balarama and others sought to appease those who had created the confusion. Arjuna proceeded to the house of the potter accompanied by Draupadi.

As Bhima and Arjuna were taking Draupadi to their temporary abode, Dhrishtadyumna followed them at a distance, and, unseen by them, closely observed everything that took place there. He was amazed and delighted at what he saw, and returning, he secretly told King Drupada: "Father, I think they are the Pandavas. Draupadi accompanied them, holding to the skirts of the deer-skin of that youth and she was not at all abashed. I also followed and I saw all five and a venerable and august lady who, I have no doubt, is Kunti herself."

Invited by Drupada Kunti and the Pandavas went to the palace. Dharmaputra confided to the king that they were the Pandavas. He also informed him of their decision to marry Draupadi in common.

Drupada rejoiced at knowing that they were the Pandavas, which set at rest all anxiety regarding the enmity of Drona. But he was surprised and disgusted when he heard that they would jointly marry Draupadi.

Drupada opposed this and said: "How unrighteous! How did this idea get into your head, this immoral idea that goes against the traditional usage?"

Yudhishthira answered: "O king, kindly excuse us. In a time of great peril we vowed that we would share all things in common and we cannot break that pledge. Our mother has commanded us so." Finally Drupada yielded and the marriage was celebrated.
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nusrat Jahan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Daffodil International University

Offline nusrat-diu

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Re: The Mahabharata
« Reply #29 on: June 29, 2011, 06:05:06 PM »
18. Indraprastha

WHEN news of the incidents that took place during the swayamvara at Panchala reached Hastinapura, Vidura was happy. He immediately went to Dhritarashtra and said: "O King, our family has become stronger because the daughter of Drupada has become our daughter-in-law. Our stars are good."

Dhritarashtra thought in his blind fondness for his son that it was Duryodhana, who had also gone to take part in the swayamvara, that had won Draupadi. Under this mistaken impression he replied: "It is indeed, as you say, a good time for us. Go at once and bring Draupadi. Let us give Panchali a joyous welcome."

Vidura hastened to correct the mistake. He said: "The blessed Pandavas are alive and it is Arjuna who has won the daughter of Drupada. The five Pandavas have married her jointly according to the rites enjoined by the sastras. With their mother Kuntidevi they are happy and well under the care of Drupada."

At these words of Vidura, Dhritarashtra felt frustrated but concealed his disappointment. He said to Vidura with apparent joy: "O Vidura, I am delighted at your words. Are the dear Pandavas really alive? We have been mourning them as dead! The news you have now brought is balm to my heart. So the daughter of Drupada has become our daughter-in-law. Well, well, very good."

Duryodhana's jealousy and hatred redoubled when he found that the Pandavas had somehow escaped from the wax palace and after spending a year incognito had now become even more powerful on account of the alliance with the mighty king of Panchala. Duryodhana and his brother Duhsasana went to their uncle Sakuni and said in sorrow: "Uncle, we are undone. We have been let down by relying on Purochana. Our enemies, the Pandavas, are cleverer than ourselves, and fortune also seems to favor them. Dhrishtadyumna and Sikhandin have become their allies. What can we do?" 

Karna and Duryodhana went to the blind Dhritarashtra. Duryodhana said: "You told Vidura that better days were ahead of us. Is it good time for us that our natural enemies, the Pandavas, have so waxed in strength that they will certainly destroy us? We could not carry out our plot against them and the fact that they know about it is an added danger. It has now come to this, either we must destroy them here and now or we shall ourselves perish. Favor us with your counsel in this matter."

Dhritarashtra replied: "Dear son, what you say is true. We should not, however, let Vidura know our mind. That was why I spoke to him in that manner. Let me now hear your suggestions as to what we should do."

Duryodhana said: "I feel so distracted that no plan occurs to me. Perhaps, we may take advantage of the fact that these Pandavas are not born of one and the same mother and create enmity between the sons of Madri and those of Kunti. We can also try to bribe Drupada into joining our side. That he has given away his daughter in marriage to the Pandavas will not stand in the way of our making him an ally. There is nothing that cannot be accomplished by the power of wealth."

Karna smiled and said: "This is but futile talk."

Duryodhana continued: "We should somehow make sure that the Pandavas do not come here and demand of us the kingdom that is now in our possession. We may commission a few brahmanas to spread convenient rumours in Drupada's city and severally tell the Pandavas that they would meet with great danger if they were to go to Hastinapura. Then the Pandavas would fear to come here and we shall be safe, from them."

Karna replied: "This too is idle talk. You cannot frighten them that way."

Duryodhana continued: "Can we not create discord among the Pandavas by means of Draupadi? Her polyandrous marriage is very convenient for us. We shall arouse doubts and jealousies in their minds through the efforts of experts in the science of erotics. We shall certainly succeed. We can get a beautiful woman to beguile some of the sons of Kunti and thus make Draupadi turn against them. If Draupadi begins to suspect any of them, we can invite him to Hastinapura and use him so that our plan prospers."

Karna laughed this also to scorn. He said: "None of your proposals is any good. You cannot conquer the Pandavas by stratagem. When they were here and were like immature birds with undeveloped wings, we found we could not deceive them, and you think we can deceive them now, when they have acquired experience and are moreover under the protection of Drupada. They have seen through your designs. Stratagems will not do hereafter. You cannot sow dissensions among them. You cannot bribe the wise and honorable Drupada. He will not give up the Pandavas on any account. Draupadi also can never be turned against them. Therefore, there is only one way left for us, and that is to attack them before they grow stronger and other friends join them. We should make a surprise attack on the Pandavas and Drupada before Krishna joins them with his Yadava army. We should take the heroic way out of our difficulty, as befits kshatriyas. Trickery will prove useless." Thus spoke Karna. Dhritarashtra could not make up his mind. The king, therefore, sent for Bhishma and Drona and consulted them.

Bhishma was very happy when he heard that the Pandavas were alive and well as guests of King Drupada of Panchala, whose daughter they had married. Consulted on the steps to be taken, Bhishma, wise with the ripe knowledge of right and wrong, replied:

"The proper course will be to welcome them back and give them half the kingdom. The citizens of the state also desire such a settlement. This is the only way to maintain the dignity of our family. There is much loose talk not creditable to you about the fire incident at the wax house. All blame, even all suspicion, will be set at rest if you invite the Pandavas and hand over half kingdom to them. This is my advice."

Drona also gave the same counsel and suggested sending a proper messenger to bring about an amicable settlement and establish peace.

Karna flew into a rage at this suggestion. He was very much devoted to Duryodhana and could not at all bear the idea of giving a portion of the kingdom to the Pandavas. He told Dhritarashtra:

"I am surprised that Drona, who has received wealth and honors at your hands, has made such a suggestion. A king should examine critically the advice of his ministers before accepting or rejecting it."

At these words of Karna, Drona, his old eyes full of anger, said: "O wicked man, you are advising the king to go on the wrong path. If Dhritarashtra does not do what Bhishma and myself have advised, the Kauravas will certainly meet with destruction in the near future."

Then Dhritarashtra sought the advice of Vidura who replied:

"The counsel given by Bhishma, the head of our race, and Drona, the master, is wise and just and should not be disregarded. The Pandavas are also your children like Duryodhana and his brothers. You should realise that those who advise you to injure the Pandavas are really bent upon the destruction of the race. Drupada and his sons as well as Krishna and the Yadavas are staunch allies of the Pandavas. It is impossible to defeat them in battle. Karna's advice is foolish and wrong. It is reported abroad that we tried to kill the Pandavas in the wax house, and we should first of all try to clear ourselves of the blame. The citizens and the whole country are delighted to know that the Pandavas are alive and they desire to see them once again. Do not listen to the words of Duryodhana. Karna and Sakuni are but raw youths, ignorant of statesmanship and incompetent to advise. Follow Bhishma's advice."

In the end Dhritarashtra determined to establish peace by giving half the kingdom to the sons of Pandu. He sent Vidura to the kingdom of Panchala to fetch the Pandavas and Draupadi.

Vidura went to the city of King Drupada in a speedy vehicle taking along with him many kinds of jewels and other valuable presents.

Vidura rendered due honor to King Drupada and requested him on behalf of Dhritarashtra to send the Pandavas with Panchali to Hastinapura.

Drupada mistrusted Dhritarashtra, but he merely said: "The Pandavas may do as they like."

Vidura went to Kuntidevi and prostrated himself before her. She said: "Son of Vichitravirya, you saved my sons. They are, therefore, your children. I trust you. I shall do as you advise." She was also suspicious of Dhritarashtra's intentions.

Vidura thus assured her: "Your children will never meet with destruction. They will inherit the kingdom and acquire great renown. Come, let us go." At last Drupada also gave his assent and Vidura returned to Hastinapura with the Pandavas, Kunti, and Draupadi.

In jubilant welcome of the beloved princes who were returning home after long years of exile and travail, the streets of Hastinapura had been sprinkled with water and decorated with flowers. As had been already decided, half the kingdom was made over to the Pandavas and Yudhishthira was duly crowned king.

Dhritarashtra blessed the newly crowned Yudhishthira and bade him farewell with these words: "My brother Pandu made this kingdom prosperous. May you prove a worthy heir to his renown! King Pandu delighted in abiding by my advice. Love me in the same manner. My sons are wicked and proud. I have made this settlement so that there may be no strife or hatred between you. Go to Khandavaprastha and make it your capital. Our ancestors Pururavas, Nahusha, and Yayati ruled the kingdom from there. That was our ancient capital. Re-establish that and be famous."  In this manner Dhritarashtra spoke affectionately to Yudhishthira.

The Pandavas renovated that ruined city, built palaces and forts, and renamed it Indraprastha. It grew in wealth and beauty and became the admiration of the world.

The Pandavas ruled there happily for thirty-six years with their mother and Draupadi, never straying from the path of dharma.
 
 
Nusrat Jahan
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Daffodil International University